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  • Exploring Issues of Diversity Within HBCUs by Ted Ingram etal.
  • Marybeth Gasman
Exploring Issues of Diversity Within HBCUs Ted Ingram, Derrick Greenfield, Joelle Carter, and Adriel Hilton Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2015, 344 pages, $45.99 (softcover)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have always been diverse in their student and faculty make up unless forbidden by law. In fact, some of the first students and faculty at HBCUs were White students. HBCUs also served as safe havens for Jews fleeing persecution during the McCarthy Era. Moreover, HBCU faculties are some of the most diverse in the nation, boasting, on average, 60% Black and 40% non-Black faculties. HBCUs also exemplify the Black Diaspora, enrolling students from Africa, the Caribbean, and South America. Likewise, differences in religion, gender, and sexuality also abound. However, diversity—especially around race and ethnicity—has often been controversial.

In the 1980s and 1990s there was an influx of White students into public HBCUs with little fanfare, however, the recent uptick in Latinos and Asians has caught the attention of the HBCU community, media, and policymakers. Increased enrollment of these racial and ethnic groups has been quick, just as it has been at majority institutions across the nation. These groups are the most likely to immigrate and to have large families, resulting in more college-aged students enrolling in all types of institutions.

Whereas most HBCU students are comfortable with the racial and ethnic changes on their campuses, some alumni are not and have been vocal in their concerns. They feel that HBCUs should be for Black students in order to maintain the “Blackness” of the institution and the overall ethos of the institution. These alumni are concerned that as others—Whites included—make way onto the campuses, they will change.

Given the rapidly changing demographics of the nation, the White population is likely to decrease at HBCUs but the Asian and Latino population is sure to increase (Gasman, 2013). Both of these groups are attracted to HBCUs due to the low cost, family-like environment, low faculty-student ratio, and curricula. Although their presence will be known, it is unlikely that it will change the overall nature [End Page 760] of HBCUs in any major way.

In Ted Ingram, Derrick Greenfield, Joelle Carter, and Adriel Hilton’s new edited book Exploring Issues of Diversity within HBCUs, the authors grapple with the meaning of diversity and its various manifestations at HBCUs. This is a timely book as more and more HBCU presidents and enrollment management staff members are beginning to actively reach out to non-Blacks to increase enrollment on campuses. In addition, some HBCUs are being pressured to diversify their student bodies.

Chapters in Exploring Issues of Diversity within HBCUs focus specifically on inclusivity, equity, diversity beyond race, socioeconomic landscapes, and identity. In the first chapter, the editors examine the significance of HBCUs and their inclusive climate. John T. Wolfe, Jr. examines diversity in HBCUs. In the next 13 chapters, Greenfield considers new frameworks for inclusion and equity. John Michael Lee Jr. redefines diversity of HBCUs beyond race. Monica Galloway Burke and Colin D. Cannonier examine the contemporary economic and social landscape of HBCUs. Carter and Wilmon A. Christian, III analyze diversity work at HBCUs and predominantly White institutions (PWI). The impact of ethnic and cultural diversity at HBCUs on students, faculty, and staff is the focus for Anita Nahal, Adrian Thompson, Mai Abdul Rahman, and Verna F. Orr. Jonathan M. Cox explores Black racial identity at HBCUs. Yoruba Mutakabbir, Rosemary B. Closson, and Wilma J. Henry describe the experiences of White students at HBCUs. Barbara J. Johnson, SaFiya D. Hoskins, and Timothy E. Johnson consider the perceptions of White faculty of the racial climate at Black colleges. Aundria Green and Rachelle Winkle-Wagner contemplate how diversity of methodologies and researcher backgrounds influences interpretations of diversity data. Carl Darnell provides a case study of an HBCU–PWI partnership from the perspective of the HBCU. Brian K. Bridges and Tracae M. McClure look at HBCU administrative commitments to diversity. Greenfield and Douglas W. Curry argue the need for continued work to frame the diversity agenda at HBCUs. Finally, Earl S. Richardson provides an...


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